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Etna volcano update: Powerful lava fountains rise up to 1000 m at Europe's most active volcano

Sun, 21 Feb 2021, 17:08
17:08 PM | BY: T
View of the eruption at night with its impressive umbrella cloud (image: Massiimo Lo Giudice / facebook)
View of the eruption at night with its impressive umbrella cloud (image: Massiimo Lo Giudice / facebook)
Current tremor signal (image: INGV Catania)
Current tremor signal (image: INGV Catania)
Last night's eruptive episode of tall lava fountains, known as paroxysm, turned out to be one of the most impressive and powerful in recent years. Not only did it produce higher fire fountains than usually, but also it lasted longer than most other paroxysms.
Around 10:30 p.m. local time, volcanic tremor and strombolian activity from the New SE crater began to increase drastically. Half an hour later, a first lava flow started to descend from the eastern summit vent of the crater, and activity continued to increase, soon forming fountains of a few hundred meters tall.
However, instead of peaking (and decreasing) very soon, activity continued to increase and first reached its climax at around 00:30 this morning, with fire fountains reaching the incredible heights of 800-1000 m! Thanks to the near-absence of wind, a tall eruption column of over 10 km height formed with a circular umbrella cloud at the boundary between troposphere and stratosphere (see attached image by Massimo Lo Giudice on facebook)

The eruption ended abruptly at 2 a.m., thus having produced sustained lava fountains for almost 3 hours!

Time-lapse video of the eruption:


The National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV Catania) reported that during the eruption, at least 3 vents of the New SE crater were active. The first lava flow from the so-called saddle vent descended to the southwest towards the Torre del Filosofo area, but eventually only reached a few hundred meters length. Most lava was directed into a more voluminous flow traveling east into the Valle del Bove, where it reached a length of 3.5-4 km and stopped in similar areas as the ones from the previous paroxysms, at elevations between 1700-1800 m.
The eruptive activity had dropped already, but the New SE crater reactivated itself in a series of approx. 20 very violent explosions between 04:30-05:15 local time, which launched incandescent bombs beyond the base of the cone.
After 05:15, no more eruptive activity was observed at the New SE crater, while mild strombolian activity is continuing from the other summit vents (Bocca Nuova, Voragine).
It will be interesting to see whether Etna continues its current rhythmic pattern of paroxysms every roughly 35 hours. If so, the 5th of the current series should occur around noon tomorrow...

Previous news

Sat, 20 Feb 2021, 22:57
Lava fountain from Etna's New SE crater during the paroxysm on 20-21 Feb 2021 (image: thermal webcam INGV Catania)
The 4th paroxysm within little more than 4 days is occurring at the time of this update! Starting in the evening of 20 Feb 2021, the explosive activity at the New SE crater gradually increased and developed into sustained lava fountains now approx. 300 m tall, and still rising. ... Read all
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